The monster–kid relationship is an interesting thing. Monsters are, by definition, super scary and not at all kid-friendly. They also comprise two-thirds of the population of Sesame Street. Then there are these kids apps, the majority of which feature not-quite-cuddly monsters that are either designed by or friends of your kids. Maybe monsters really do make the best playmates, and they’re only hiding under the bed because they’re waiting their turn in an epic game of hide and seek. Turn your little Dr. Frankenstein loose with these games and hopefully those monsters won’t feel quite so misunderstood.
DNA sequencing isn’t necessarily the first subject you’d consider for a top-rated kids’ app, but that’s shortsighted for 2 reasons. First, because DNA Play is really about arranging puzzle pieces (“genes”) to create, mutate, and clone more than 200 billion (with a “B!”) goofy monsters that do hilarious stuff; the science is subtle. Second, because your kids will probably genetically engineer your grandkids, so they might as well start learning how it works.
$2.99 (iOS) (Android) (Kindle)
Create A Monster HD
Alternatively, if your kid is a chaos theorist who believes that type of genetic control is simply not possible, Create A Monster removes any shred of science. The app serves up a plethora of monster parts — eyes, ears, teeth, horns, gnarly double chins, you name it — a color palette, and a blank canvas, and lets your kid create a monster masterpiece. (And a graveyard smash…terpiece?)
Make Me Smile
Show your kid what it’s like to be you by pitting them against a little monster they must try and amuse, make smile, or calm the crap down. Make Me Smile teaches empathy, compassion, and bravery, and can photograph your child’s most hilarious and sincere emotional reactions as they play. So you can always show grandma a smiling little monster, whether or not they’re cooperating on Skype.
Go Away Big Green Monster
The classic picture book you remember comes to life as an app to delight your kids and make you feel old. Like the book, it empowers kids to overcome their fears by turning a scary monster into a silly playmate. Unlike the book, the monster in the app provides his own sound effects. (Don’t worry, there’s a “Read Yourself” mode. Making weird noises is obviously the best part.)
The Land Of Venn
This game exists right at the intersection between Common Core-compliant education and fart noises. (Yeah, that was a “Venn Diagram” pun right there.) Your kids will learn and use geometry to defend the Kabouters from the evil Bookenriders of Apeirogon who are trying to drink all their magic juice. If you understand one bit of that, nobody better mess with your magic juice.
$4.99 (iOS) $0.99 (Kindle)
Watch and laugh as your kid takes control of Bonnie Fitzgerald, hides all over her family’s house, and makes stuff go bump in the night for the express purpose of scaring the bejesus out of them. Laugh because they’re finally not doing it to you for once, as they have been ever since they realized they could fit behind the curtains.
Free (iOS) (Windows) $2.49 (Android) $2.99 (Kindle)
Another build your own monster game, but with the twist that players have to mix and match their monster’s parts to be able to fully explore different worlds. Each island features land, air, and sea environments with different music, scenery, and other critters to meet and do monster stuff with. Besides, is your kid really going to ever get tired of making their own monster?
Plants Vs. Zombies
It’s pretty fantastic that the only defense against an army of the undead is a garden full of the most passively alive things on planet earth. With names like Peashooters and Cherry Bombs, these plants are literally pun guns. With 30+ Game Of The Year Awards to its credit and multiple sequels, you’ve probably been playing Plants Vs. Zombies for years; now it’s your kids’ turn.
$0.99 (iOS) (Kindle) $2.99 (Android) (Windows)